Has Atlanta become the secret headquarters of mauve-colored Vaporwave? I don’t know the answer, but I know a tendency when I see one. After the discovery of AstroShaman’s Welcome To The Vapor Age (2014), the mercurial Dream Catalogue label gives another Atlanta-based producer a chance to carve out a specific set of aesthetics: Paul Logan aka NeonTropix comes up with his self-titled debut of eleven tracks which can be streamed and fetched at Bandcamp as usual, though whether AstroShaman and NeonTropix have more in common than meets the eye, i.e. because they are one and the same producer is for them to know and you to find out. Crazier things and double entendres have happened in vaporland. Anyway, Paul Logan’s album sports a front artwork that is lush and pink, evoking adventure, paradisiac notions and Exotica. This is no WYSIWYG album, however, as NeonTropix is surprisingly serious while still harboring all the Vaporwave traits and treats. The surfaces are colorful, the synth pads born in the 80’s, the drums bold and heavy, but the textures and harmonies are quite thought-provoking in the given context; comprising of pianos, panpipes and Rhodes elements, the self-titled album is glitchier and blotchier than expected. Here is a closer analysis of its various countermovements, driblets and alluring floyds.


That ever-important first impression of a record: Insert Disc is a great title for an opener of the V-genre, but can Paul Logan’s inaugural amethyst reflect the purple glow of the front artwork? It can, and it does… cautiously so. In lieu of oversaturated synth riffs, NeonTropix launches the album with vivaciously exotic timbales and bongos. Coupled with a purified jungle flute, the album’s kick-off is more akin to New Age than expected. In close proximity to this gateway, however, resides Grand Prix, and it is this sparkler that hits the synapses hard, and as expected. Arpeggiated acid pads and dark matter ornaments lead to synth-infused hydrazines of harmonic patterns. Piercing frost claps, MIDIlicious sax reticulations and the laser-accentuated oomph of many 80’s drums evokes sports cars and palm trees in Atlanta. Of note is the cohesive immersion effect: this is no effervescent ditty! There’s melancholia and contemplation sewn among the pavement. The adjacent Neon Escalator Liftoff meanwhile provides a vertical vestibule to a chime-infused handclap-oriented perennial snowflake serenade awash with parallax pointillism, all the while 3-D Satisfaction encapsulates stacked blitz blisters whose granular clarity becomes enmeshed in bubbling synth cataracts and brass bleeps. NeonTropix is on the prowl, the tonality is slick but quite sleazy too.


These four tracks should provide all the basic premises – and promises – for the listener to help him or her adjust to the endemic erethism of NeonTropix’s nutritious popsicles. And so the remaining artifacts remain as artful as they are artistic: Sidewalk City unfurls Honky Tonk pianos whose glacial clarity is further fueled by the interstitial electric brethren before they fall into a staccato cesspool of metalization molecules; Thundergunner is a versatile blip technodrome loaded with fusillades of tiny blotches, claps, an arpeggio galore and dreamy vocals that haven’t lost their human touch at all. Resemblant of Telozkope’s flittering jungle splashes – Equanaimo comes to mind in particular – but with said vocal-based legato veil to hold on to, NeonTropix continues to worship the glitchier patchwork of sudden bursts and plinking vesicles.


This is also the case in Find You, an unexpectedly uplifting ode for the boy or the bae, awash with euphonious caustic chords, seraphic synth choir blebs and a cascading punctilio of square lead pads. In short: a corker! While the neighboring Glowfish inherits that melodramatic aura of a Japanese RPG at first, its piano-oriented nucleus soon enough encounters synth splashes, some of them immediate and hard, others softly blurred appendixes in the distance. The chlorotic mood remains though, forming a universe within itself, only dependent on its own existence. The album ends with a luminous triptych: Little Blinking Light morphs from a Rhodes-centered lift muzak shanty to a gleaming blaze of technicolor flares complete with many a beatless sanctuary, Miss You offers a dualistic mysterious/lovestoned cavern with wadded cotton bolsters and traversing echoes of sustained crystals, with the finale Remember Summer rounding the album off with Kavinsky-esque arpeggio sequences. Hued in warmth, awash with diffractive rays of sanguine light and rounded off via softened two-note vibes, Paul Logan ends things with the classic uplifting tune. And if you don’t catch his drift, he makes sure that the staggering power of the kick drums lets the naysayer’s heart beat in excitement.


The self-titled debut of NeonTropix unchains the kaleidoscopic cloudlets of a warmhearted mind. This mind doesn’t necessarily need to be congruent with the artist himself at all times – let alone at all costs – but if I had to delineate the innermost core of the album in a catchphrase, I’d go for “outwitted melancholia.” This means many things to even more people, but the gist of it is found in the basic locale of each track: the titles invoke colorful streets, patterns and memorabilia, but it is the latter of the three that remains the dominant force, as remembrance reigns over every other feeling and sentiment. You can hear this process of thought through Paul Logan’s choice of textures on the one hand, for instance panpipes, pianos, blooming bells and benthic afterglows, and via the integrated timbre on the other hand, a timbre which incidentally shares the rose-tinted nostalgia of Vaporwave but then mobs it up by injecting more serious, devoted undertones. All of this describes the melancholia. But remember that I have clumsily coined the term outwitted melancholia, so there must be something else. And something else there is aplenty! Coupled with the gorgeous stop-and-go turmoils, the cool shadiness of the cauterized synth pads and a glittering stature overall, NeonTropix is a heartfelt trip that overcomes said melancholia. It doesn’t break out, there’s an instance that controls and tames every looming outburst, but in tandem with the crisp and simmering textural array, the result is a polyfoil magenta sunset.


Further listening and reading:




Ambient Review 409: NeonTropix– NeonTropix (2014). Originally published on Jan. 21, 2015 at